Thank you for the opportunity to be the Master for 2018. I will do my utmost to conduct a harmonious, enlightening, fraternal, entertaining, and enjoyable year. The theme for the year is “Harmony and Compassion”, and I am working to design an invigorating schedule to develop this theme.
Harmony is defined as “A consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts…The simultaneous combination of tones, especially when blended into chords pleasing to the ear…The science of the structure, relations, and practical combination of chords.”
Some would define harmony as “agreement”. But does the violin “agree” with the piano? I prefer to think of harmony not as agreement, but as two different perspectives that, when joined, form something better. Thus, as Freemasons, we are not encouraged to “agree” with each other, but more to understand and respect each others’ differences. Should the violin attempt to convince the piano to sound more like a violin? That would certainly lead to dis-chord. By combining the violin and the piano Mozart created some of the most beautiful sonata harmonies ever created.
The Book of Constitutions guarded by the Tyler’s sword “reminds us that we should be every watchful and guarded in our thoughts, words, and actions…” Thus does Masonry insist that we constantly employ discretion and self-control. Most conflicts can be avoided if we simply think for a moment how other people will receive our comments and actions, and if it would disrupt their equilibrium – don’t say it, don’t do it. Empathy is a key component to maintaining harmony, and it is the bridge to compassion, which is the second half of this year’s message.
The sense of hearing is one of the five main senses, by which “we are enabled to enjoy the pleasures of society, and reciprocally to communicate to each other our thoughts and intentions…while thus our reason is capable of exerting its utmost power and energy.” Thus we may enjoy the pleasures of conversation especially when we use our reason with empathy to discern the feelings of others, and avoid disruptive commentary.
In the words of Pythagoras, “Virtue is Harmony.”
“Compassion” is defined as a “Sympathetic concern for the situation of others.” As Masons, one of “the great aims we have in view” is to practice brotherly love by “sympathizing with the misfortunes, compassionating the miseries, and relieving the troubled minds” of others.
Masonry is an ethical system developed long ago which brings together people of varied religious backgrounds, but whom all agree that morality and virtue should be the governing principle of our lives and our work. The practice of Masonry, and the study of Masonic principles, could provide an excellent framework for companies and businesses attempting to instill timeless values into the workplace.
Our society abounds with organizations whose livelihood depends on service to others. We have a name for these organizations; we call them…”Businesses”. Each business is comprised of individuals, working together for 40 hours a week toward a common goal. Businesses appear to have different goals, such as the provision of food, the brewing of beer, providing a governmental service, or the crafting of eyeglasses. But in reality, every organization has the same goal, and that is Service. To be successful, every business must interact with colleagues, suppliers, and customers in an orchestra of Service.
This system offers us multiple opportunities every day to be “of service” to every person we meet. And we can do this simply by attempting to understand the feelings, hopes, and situations of other people, and then crafting a personalized message or service to enlighten their day.
As Socrates said, “Happiness is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. The benefits of practicing virtue accrue first to the individual, and then to others.” –
I look forward to working with the brothers of Temple Lodge #65 to create beautiful chords of music in the form of Charity, Fraternity, and Light. As we work together to provide compassionate service to brothers and others, let us remember that disagreement is appropriate when delivered in a measured, constructive, and non-judgmental way.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
–From Your Worshipful Master for 2018